Today I ran a workshop based on the book, “How to Talk So Kids Can Learn” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish, for teachers at a local highschool in Cleveland. The topic was “How To Manage Your Student’s Negative Feelings.”
The teachers were told to read the first chapter of “How To Talk So Kids Will Learn” before they came to the workshop. I also asked them to try using the skills in their classrooms and see what happens. They came to the workshops with questions and stories of their own.
We discussed how:
- Teens get upset about things that may seem silly to adults. Teens can go on and on about a bad hair day, losing a baseball game, or that their best friend sat at a different table at lunch.
- We need to enter into our teens world and see things from their perspective.
- We tend to deny teen’s feelings instead of empathizing with them. For example, when teen’s complain, “I am going to fail this test!.” We usually say, “Don’t worry!, You’ll be fine! Last time you got a 90!” or “Just calm down!”
- It is more effective to empathize with teens and say, “You sound concerned about the test…” “You are wondering if you studied enough…”
- When we empathize with kids, it diffuse power struggles and conflict. But most important, it sends a silent message of, “This is a problem you can handle and manage.”
- It was tough to empathize with a whole classroom of students particularly when just one or two of their students were complaining and the other students were managing just fine. It was much easier in a one on one situation.
Next week we are going to finish up this topic and start the next one, Engaging Our Student’s Cooperation.